Ultimate Spider-Man
#1 - Great Power

Original Airdate - April 1st, 2012
One year after becoming Spider-Man, a teenage Peter Parker is approached by Nick Fury to train with S.H.I.E.L.D. Spidey turns Fury down, but soon finds that villainous forces may require him to join the big leagues after all, in the series premiere of Ultimate Spider-Man.

Ultimate Spider-Man stars Drake Bell (Drake & Josh) as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Chi McBride (Boston Public) as Nick Fury, Clark Gregg (Iron Man, Thor, The Avengers) as Agent Coulson, JK Simmons (Spider-Man) as J. Jonah Jameson, Steven Weber (Wings) as Norman Osborn, Greg Cipes (Teen Titans, Ben 10) as Danny Rand/Iron Fist, Ogie Banks as Luke Cage/Power Man, Caitlyn Taylor Love (I'm In The Band) as Ava Ayala/White Tiger, Logan Miller (I'm In The Band) as Sam Alexander/Nova, Tom Kenny (SpongeBob SquarePants) as Doctor Octopus, Matt Lanter (Star Wars: The Clone Wars) as Harry Osborn/Flash Thompson, Tara Strong (The Fairly Odd Parents) as Mary-Jane Watson, Misty Lee ( Batman: Arkham City) as Aunt May, and recurring guest star Stan Lee (Spider-Man) as Stan the Janitor.

"Great Power" was written by Paul Dini.

Ultimate Spider-Man is produced by Marvel Animation and carries a TV-Y7-FV parental guideline.

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By Jeffrey Harris

Ultimate Spider-Man is not like the beloved fan favorite series The Spectacular Spider-Man. It’s not like the smash hit that the 1990’s Fox Kids animated series was. Ultimate Spider-Man is something different yet still completely appropriate for Spider-Man. At this year’s Marvel TV panel at the 2012 WonderCon, Marvel TV’s Director of Development, Jeph Loeb, previewed the first part of the show’s one hour pilot which will be dropping April 1 on Disney XD. To those that have been observing the show and previews with trepidation, you might find yourself surprised that like Batman: The Brave and The Bold, it’s not so bad.

The show’s animation quality and character designs are top notch. This is the best Spider-Man has looked in a while, including Spectacular where I was never fond of the character design and art direction they went with for that show. The show looks like the comics brought to life. It's colorful, vibrant, and dynamic. The shapes and designs of the characters in Spectacular were at times downright awkward.

I think the Scott Pilgrim sort of comparison is accurate however you could also look at other beloved shows like none other than Avatar: The Last Airbender or also Shonen Jump series like Naruto and Bleach. Those shows are also no strangers to goofy comedy that is visually absurd and outrageous at times, but they also know when it was time to tone and down and be serious. The dynamic humor in this series works since Peter is a geeky teenager with an overactive imagination. The show more or less is merely visualizing that comedic aspect of Spider-Man many fans have grown to love over the years.

The story has definitely taken some cues from the Ultimate Spider-Man comics but also the movies as well. The relationship between Peter, Harry, and Norman is very reminiscent from the movies. However Norman's overall character arc (as well as his inevitable transformation into the Green Goblin) will resemble his Ultimate Comics counterpart. Doctor Octopus works for Osborn (he's only seen in the shadows reporting to Osborn in the pilot, and he already looks to have his mechanical limbs). Osborn is already aware of Spider-Man and has some sinister designs on the wall-crawler.

Another element I like is they've incorporated the classic relationship between Flash Thompson and Peter. Flash is Peter's high school bully, which Peter goes along with. As Spider-Man, Flash is Spider-Man's biggest fan and worships Spider-Man. This looks like it will be a good source of comedy throughout the series along with Stan Lee’s appearance as the janitor of Peter’s high school.

Mary Jane is not the shallow party girl that hides a mask of a depressing and tragic home life. She's more of an outgoing cute girl next door that Peter has known since kindergarten. I imagine the series could explore Mary Jane's home life more but she's now an aspiring journalist instead of an actress/model. I'm fine with this since I think Peter always having been married to the "perfect" woman who is also a famous actress/model had been kind of played out. Mary Jane wanting to be a journalist and wanting to get scoops on Spider-Man could also add some interesting elements to the story going forward. MJ implies she wants to work for Jameson and the Daily Bugle much to Peter's chagrin.

Nick Fury’s basic presence in the series is that he wants to give Spider-Man training to help him be a better superhero. Fury also already knows everything about Peter's life and why he became Spider-Man. Spider-Man is at a crossroads being in high school and his distractions as Spider-Man have caused those closest to him to get hurt.

So the show does have those dramatic and emotional elements accurate to the comics and hits them well. An especially painful moment is when after defending his school from the Frightful Four, Peter has forgotten to bring home the cake for he and Aunt May to celebrate the birthday of his late Uncle Ben in memorium. The popular line is “with great power comes great responsibility.” But what about just simply Peter Parker’s responsibilities as a young man and not just as a masked hero? It will be that classic conflict of the duality between Peter’s life as Spider-Man and his personal life that will yet again take fans and viewers for a spin.

*Note: Continue to "Great Responsibility" to read the review for the second episode.*

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